The recent events in Afghanistan have affected those I care about and myself more than I can put into words. I spent three years of my young adult life “fighting for this country” spending two of those years in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. Honestly it should not come as a surprise.
Before leaving Iraq in 2009, we knew what would happen and pushed it up the chain in our debriefs about what the locals told us. Watching both Mosul and Sinjar burn along with so many historical sites really hurt my heart. Whether or not we agreed with the war, the administration(s), or the mission, we met real people whose lives had been affected by all of this. It was sad to see people being pushed out of the cities and into the mountains.
Afghanistan is different to me. It’s more personal. Along with many others I watched as they ran the planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania. I wanted to go and fight for my country. As a 24 year old going into Afghanistan in 2004, I didn’t know what to expect except the worst. Instead, I spent a year helping to secure the voting sites for the first democratic election ever. I built long lasting relationships with my brothers and sisters in arms, and learned about the Afghani culture. I felt like we were making a true difference.
Watching the events unfold over the last few months, like many of my friends, I feel cheated, tricked, and robbed. There was no transition, no hand off, and not even a chance that Afghanistan would make it on its own. All of those people that we helped are now in danger and their lives will be forever changed. Women will be persecuted and anyone that helped the United States will be in grave danger. Schools will be shut down, and much more.
In the end I think that as a country, we forgot why we went over there to begin with. We really gave in and accomplished nothing over the last twenty years and that stings. I lost friends and my young adult life to this war. I hope that the people of Afghanistan have an opportunity to improve their situation. Hopefully, my brothers and sisters in arms can find a way to cope with this in a positive way. Search for that peace that we so rightfully deserve.
Scott Snyder was deployed to Afghanistan from April 2004 to April 2005. He currently teaches video productions at North Marion High School.